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What is the Difference Between Physical And Legal Custody?

Divorces are a difficult situation that changes the lives of an entire family. Couples who decide to go through a divorce are required to determine new arrangements for their separate lives. If the spouses are parents, they must establish custody arrangements. With a custody agreement, parents can decide who the child lives and spends the majority of their time with in addition to the amount of influence each parent has on the child’s life and upbringing. 

Sometimes, couples are able to reach an agreement regarding custody on their own. If they are unable to, the court makes these decisions for them in the best interest of the child. The type of custody arrangement a family may have is dependent on their personal situation. 

Physical Custody

Physical custody, also referred to as residential custody, determines the parent a child lives and spends the majority of their time with. As the main guardian, this parent provides the child with a home, clothes, food, education and more. It is important to know that even though the child lives with this parent, they also spend time in the home of the non-custodial parent. 

Legal Custody

Even if a parent does not have physical custody of their child, they should still fight for legal custody. This type of custody is different and covers another aspect of their child’s life. When a parent obtains legal custody of their child, they are granted the right to have an influence over the important matters of their child’s life. This allows them to be a part of the decision-making regarding matters such as health care, academics, religious practices, and more. 

With legal custody, non-custodial parents are given the opportunity to be involved and have a relationship with their child. Maintaining legal custody lets this parent have a say in the upbringing of their child as well. 

How is Custody Determined?

When parents go to court to establish a custody arrangement, a judge is given the right to make this decision. In doing so, they consider several different factors regarding the family before coming to a decision. This can include: 

  • If the parent will act in the child’s best interest
  • If the parent can provide a stable home
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Any history of abuse
  • The needs and safety of the child
  • The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age

Contact our Firm

If you or a family member is going through a divorce and seeking legal representation for child custody, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark L.L.C today.